Area stock car racing: Modified win at Glen Ridge gives Warner a 'slam'
Call it “The Rocky Slam.”
Rocky Warner completed a rare feat last Friday night when he recorded his first career modified victory at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park.
The victory allowed Warner to become the first driver to win features in four different divisions at the same track. He actually won in five divisions, if you count rookie sportsman and sportsman as two separate entities, but “The Rocky Slam” sounds better with four.
Warner had already made history at the Ridge. In May 2004, promoter Bob Niemitz decided to bring in race cars to the little track on the hill outside Fultonville, and Warner took the first checkered flag in the track in something other than a go-kart.
Between that victory in 2004 and last Friday night’s win, Warner had 12 street stock victories, seven pro-stock wins and 10 sportsman victories (two rookie, eight regular division).
He’s also been the track champion three times — 2004 in a street stock, 2010 in pro-stocks and 2012 in sportsman.
But to me, the most impressive thing about Warner’s still-budding career is the fact that he’s got three straight victories during Super Dirt Week at Syracuse.
As a rookie qualifier in 2010, he won the pro-stock race on the Moody Mile. He started third, got a good jump on Jeremy Pitts and Jay Corbin on the first lap, and led flag-to-flag. After the race, he said. “This is what dreams are made of. This is like our Daytona 500.”
The next year, he was back in victory lane after the pro-stock race, despite starting 11th. Anyone who thinks you can’t pass at Syracuse hasn’t seen Warner in action. “This year, we had to earn it, big time,” he said after the 2011 victory.
Last year, in his first try in the sportsman race during Super DIRT Week, he passed Mathieu Desjardins on the final lap to keep his winning streak alive. “I told some of the guys to pinch me,” he said. “It doesn’t seem real.”
What makes “The Rocky Slam” impressive is that very few drivers take the time to go through all the divisions. Drivers who like full-fendered cars usually stick to the pro-stocks. and with the cost of racing now, a lot of drivers are content to remain in the sportsman division, rather than inherit the additional expenses of running a modified.
The only other driver I know of who won in the four regular divisions is former Fonda Speedway track champion Todd Hoffman, but he didn’t win in all four classes at the same track.
His street stock and sportsman victories came at Fonda; he recorded a pro-stock win (1988) and a modified win (1989) at Albany-Saratoga.
But his feat has some gray areas. The late model division at Fonda was phased out in 1983 and replaced with the street stocks, mostly as a cost-cutting move, because of the Howe chassis that were dominating the class. The street stocks that began running weren’t really the street stocks you see today — they were really low-budget late models, and the class evolved at Fonda to a point where it became pro-stocks in 1989. So, in essence, it’s one class from about 1983 to now.
Hoffman dominated the street stock division in 1987 and 1988 at Fonda, winning 13 features each year. He also ran his Fonda “street stock” as a pro-stock at Albany-Saratoga on occasion in 1988, and won a 50-lap feature on May 30.
He moved up to sportsman the next season, and won in his fourth start at Fonda. That was his only win of the year at the Track of Champions. But remember, Albany-Saratoga was running 358 modifieds, the same as the Fonda sportsman, at the time, and Hoffman was campaigning the same car at Albany-Saratoga. His modified win came at the Malta track in the first half of Twin 25s in August.
If you know of anyone else on the “Slam” list, let me know.
That’s going to be the key phrase this weekend, because Saturday looks nasty.
The DMA USAC midgets are scheduled to be at Albany-Saratoga tonight, and the pro-stocks will be running for $500 to win in the AIM Warrior Series.
Devil’s Bowl will kick off its Friday night summer schedule tonight with Twin 25s for the modifieds. Ron Proctor of Charlton will begin his quest for a third straight track championship, and there will also be a fireworks display.
The Empire Super Sprints are scheduled to make their annual appearance at Fonda Speedway on Saturday,
The modifieds will be running for $3,000 to win in the Maynard Forrette Memorial at Lebanon Valley.
Around the tracks
It was good to see John McAuliffe back in victory lane after last Saturday’s sportsman feature at Fonda. The victory was McAuliffe’s first since June 19, 2010.
McAuliffe finished second in the feature, but was awarded the win when Tony Farone came up light on the scales. “I’d rather be lucky than good once in a while,” said McAuliffe after the race.
Tyler Dipple, who has been dominating the sportsman division at Lebanon Valley, won last Saturday’s feature, which paid $2,000 to win. But after the race, a protest was lodged against his motor. On Tuesday, the motor was inspected by engine builder Jack Boyd and Boyd found that the stock gear and timing chain had been replaced with after-market items, making the motor illegal. Lebanon Valley officials have yet to announce any penalties against Dipple.
Rolling Wheels swings into action on Wednesday with the DIRTcar Hall of Fame 60. I enjoyed the DIRT press release about trying to provide the best hot dogs and hamburgers in town. How about a good racing surface?
Andy Bachetti broke Brett Hearn’s four-race win streak in the modified feature at Lebanon Valley last Saturday. Bachetti also won the 358 feature.
Tony Stewart finished third in Monday night’s World of Outlaws feature at Orange County Speedway. He was also the fastest qualifier. Kraig Kinser took the checkered flag and the top prize of $10,000.